Friday, 14 August 2020

My 2020 Reading Challenge - Update #3

Books marked * were either sent via Netgalley to review or as a PR sample but all views are my own
It's already time for my third reading update of 2020! I'm sure you know the drill by now. Each year I set myself a reading challenge, this year I'm aiming for 100 books as that's what I achieved last year and throughout the year I share 'mini' reviews on all of the books I've got through. If I left this until the end of the year, the post would genuinely never end so it's easier for you to read and for me to keep track when I just share a bunch of books every few months. I shared my last update in May and since then I've had some real highs and lows with reading. During lockdown I had weeks where reading was all I wanted to do - if we couldn't leave the house at least I could escape a little through the characters - but then I also had weeks where picking up a book was the last thing I wanted to do! Anyway, here's all the books I've read since May. Let me know if you've read any of them too!
books stacked on top of one another held up in front of bookshelf

Little Whispers by K.L. Slater* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the second book I've read from K.L. Slater and it won't be the last. Little Whispers is just as impressive as The Apartment which is the previous book I read from the author. It reminded me a lot of Big Little Lies with Janey new to the area and wanting to fit in with the other mums and I liked all of the intrigue and drama that came with that. They clearly all had their secrets including Janey and it was like a ticking time bomb waiting for it all to unravel! I did find this didn't have quite as many bombshells throughout and was more a slow burn than other thrillers I've read recently but overall I still really enjoyed it. Already looking forward to K.L. Slater's next book!

The Bride by Wendy Clarke* - ⭐⭐⭐

I love psychological thrillers and this really had some great elements of one throughout. I genuinely had no idea where it was going to go the whole way through and I never knew who to trust which added some suspense but overall it needed more. More development of the characters, more backstory to the main character Alice and maybe a bigger twist at some point as I felt the ending was a little flat.

The Retreat by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐⭐

This really threw me as it's so different to other novels from Mark like The Magpies, Here To Stay and Because She Loves Me. This felt much more like it was trying to be a horror, a bit Stephen King but I don't feel it packed as much of a punch as it could have. I'm glad I read it but I personally didn't feel it was as good as some of his other books.

The Sun In Her Eyes by Paige Toon - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don't think this will go down as one of my favourite books of Paige's but I'm really glad I read it. There's always some sort of love triangle in Paige's book which I love and she just always manages to make you feel like you're part of the book too, like each of the characters are real. My main criticism with this is that one of the characters seemed to completely change about halfway through and from there it became quite predictable. Apart from Paige's latest release, I've now managed to get through all of her books! She's clearly a firm favourite of mine.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley - ⭐⭐⭐

I really wanted to love this but I just didn't get the hype. Maybe that was the issue, it was so hyped up and I'd seen so many people rave about this since it was first realised, maybe I went into it expecting too much. Like with An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena, I just felt underwhelmed by it. There were many characters to keep track off and I just didn't find it particularly thrilling.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley held up in front of bookshelf

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Now this was a thriller! I'm already thinking it could be a contender come the end of 2020 for my top 5 books of the year. Mother and daughter, Maggie and Nina have dinner together every other night but when they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room and into the chains that keep her there. Maggie did something years ago that Nina can't forgive and she now has to pay the price. It's just so unlike any thriller I've read before and such an interesting concept. I had no idea where this would take me and I loved that a certain character got her comeuppance at the end, though no one in this book is perfect. I was often wondering who I would side with and honestly at times they were both as bad as each other. Very dark, uncomfortable and extremely tense.

The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson - ⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed this but it wasn't quite as good as I was expecting. For a romance, apart from the initial time where Phoebe and Sam actually meet and fall in love, I didn't actually find it that romantic. It was quite predictable in that obviously everything wasn't going to go as they hoped and as much as I wanted them to be together, I didn't feel as invested in the characters as I usually would with a book like this. A nice read but not really on par with books I've read recently from Paige Toon & Sally Rooney.

My Darling by Amanda Robson* - ⭐⭐

Unfortunately I was really disappointed with this. I didn't particularly love a previous book of Amanda's but I thought this sounded really intriguing so I wanted to give it a go but I didn't think this was any better. It feels harsh to say it was poorly written but the chapters jumped all over the place, sometimes when one chapter was supposed to be a certain character, it was clearly actually the perspective of someone else, maybe an editing error? I don't know. Very anti-climatic.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

As soon as I started this book I instantly warmed to the character Queenie. I found her relatable for a number of reasons but this was such an interesting read as Queenie goes through so many things that I, as a white person never will do so I felt like it taught me a lot aswell. This book tackles many issues from racism to mental health issues, childhood trauma to relationships and I think Candice handled each subject perfectly.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams laid flat on top of 4 other books

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐⭐

This creeped me out right from the very start and that's why I like Mark's book so much. They always genuinely make me a bit scared as I'm reading them and I find the suspense just builds and builds like you're actually there with the characters experiencing it all too. I've read a few books of Mark's now that trick you into thinking it's going down a supernatural path which isn't something I really like so I hope in future there's more stories like Because She Loves Me, Here To Stay & The House Guest which are all more domestic thrillers.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I ended up loving Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG so I was really excited to start Little Fires Everywhere before watching the TV series and I was really impressed. It wasn't quite as gripping as the former in my opinion and it was harder to feel for some of the characters as they were just so unlikeable but I still found myself unable to put it down.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I could talk about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for days but I won't because I've already posted a review recently. I genuinely didn't think anything would top Normal People by Sally Rooney but this came along and blew me away. I was in awe of Evelyn and just fascinated by her life and the secrets she'd been keeping. I loved the writing style and found the way it was set out made it so easy to just keeping going and going with it. It's one of the first books this year that kept me up for hours because I just had to know what was going to happen next.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid held up over flatlay of other books

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd - ⭐⭐⭐

This starts with Samantha writing to a prisoner on death row. She's convinced he's innocent and they soon fall in love but when he gets released after new evidence comes to light, she starts to wonder why he's acting so differently and if he really is as innocent as he's protested. This started off really well and I was quite intrigued by the story as it's not like any book I've read before but in the end it was pretty anti-climatic. The ending felt a bit all over the place.

The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker* - ⭐⭐⭐

I reviewed this not long ago which you can find here so I'll keep this short and sweet but I really enjoyed this. I loved that whilst this was a romance and a big part of it was the will they/won't they between Robyn and Will, it was also about friendship and seizing the day. It's a lovely lighthearted read.

The Waffle House On The Pier by Tilly Tennant* - ⭐⭐

Just the name of this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! It made me long for days at the seaside so I really loved the coastal setting and it was really easy to picture everything. Unfortunately I don't feel I ever connected with any of the characters and I found it hard to get invested in any of the relationships. I also found the ending to be quite abrupt and I'd have loved a few more chapters.

Lost by Leona Deakin* - ⭐⭐⭐

After loving Gone by Leona Deakin, I was really excited for the second instalment in the Augusta Bloom series. Like last time, I got stuck into this straight away and I was intrigued to see where the characters had all ended up. Luckily this is set just a few months after the first book and the gaps are filled so we're completely upto date before there's a new mystery to uncover. I liked Bloom & Jameson rebuilding their relationship whilst working on a new case but I did find I was more interested in that rather than finding out what had happened to the characters they were investigating. Whilst I genuinely had no idea where this was going to go, I did think towards the end of the book there were a few too many characters and I kept getting mixed up with who was who. I did prefer the first instalment in the series over this but I'd definitely be keen to read a third if there was one.

The Chocolate Lovers' Diet by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I finally got round to reading the second instalment in the Chocolate Lover's series by Carole Matthews and I think I might have preferred it to the first. I had a deeper understanding of all of the characters in this and I love that they each had their own story going on but they always come together as a group and it's never too much going on at once, it just works brilliantly. This has real Sex and the City vibes so if you're a fan of that, I think you'd like these books.
The Chocolate Lovers' Diet by Carole Matthews stood up on bookshelf

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐

This is definitely my least favourite book of Mark's which is a shame. It had some really good moments throughout and as always was quite creepy but I just didn't think it was as gripping as most of his other books. It felt more of a crime fiction throughout which isn't a genre I'd usually go for.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - ⭐⭐⭐

I was a little disappointed in this to be honest after being absolutely obsessed with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by the same author. There were moments where I was gripped by the story and I do think Taylor is an amazing writer but generally I didn't enjoy the way the book was set out, some of the chapters felt far too long and I don't feel like there were any big stand out moments that wowed me.

The Chocolate Lovers' Christmas by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐

The third instalment in the Chocolate Lover's series and I just love these girls. I love how Carole ensures each character has their own story going on and that no-one in particular is the main character really. My criticism with this book though is that it was just too long. It felt like some chapters were just repeating stuff from the other books and a few moments felt like they'd been done too many times already. That being said, I will definitely be reading the fourth and final instalment in the series soon!

The Perfect Couple by Lisa Hall* - ⭐⭐⭐

I really did enjoy this and it genuinely kept me on the edge of my seat from the beginning. I didn't trust either of the main characters which was interesting as I really expected one or the other to be the clear baddie but that wasn't the case and there was a real unpredictability to it. My only criticism is that the ending felt a little rushed.

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis* - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It actually took me until I was about a quarter or so into this for me to really start to get invested in the characters and feel that urge to keep picking it up. I found it quite a slow start but once it did pick it, I did not want to put it down. I really liked Emmie and when characters like Elliot were introduced as a potential love interest, I liked the route it went down. It really made me smile towards the end and I loved the balance of friendship, relationships and Emmie's personal journey throughout rather than it just being focused on one thing.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis book cover
I think I should probably leave it there for now before I read more and end up adding to this over and over again. I've had a few reading slumps so I've been unsure of if I'll hit my 100 book target this year but there's still plenty of time to go.

Have you set yourself a reading challenge this year?

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rewuest said...

You're crushing it! I also liked Taylor Jenkins-Reid books and LOVED Little Fires Everywhere! So far I have read 73 books this year and just hope to keep up a pace of at least one book a week that I originally set. Rachel x

Ellen said...

What Lies Between Us sounds really intriguing! I’m not normally into thrillers but I might need to try it!

Kelly~Diane said...

These all sound like great books to read. I've set myself the challenge of actually reading the books I owe before I buy any more.

jennyinneverland said...

Queenie is definitely on my to read list! I’ve literally JUST finished The Hunting Party and... meh. I wanted to love it as well but honestly I just got a bit bored? Something kept me reading but it was so underwhelming.

Kirsty Milward said...

I downloaded Queenie on my Kindle app a few weeks ago and I'm looking forward to reading it when I'm actually in the mood to read haha. I did read the sample first and I found it really funny and relatable. I'm planning on watching Little Fires Everywhere on Prime once I've finished watching a few other TV shows. It looks really good! Also one of my friends recommended The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo so it's another book I'm going to have to have a nosey at x

Heather Nixon said...

Oh no, I was going to read The Hunting Party soon - I might still give it a go as I liked her previous book x

Tiffany Timms said...

Wow that's amazing!

Tiffany Timms said...

It's brilliant! Such a great story x

Tiffany Timms said...

Haha I get that. I've got some on my bookshelf that have been there for ages so definitely need to read those before buying more x

Tiffany Timms said...

I'm so glad it's not just me that felt that way with The Hunting Party. It's had SO much praise but it didn't feel different to anything I've read before! xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Really hope you enjoy Queenie! I thought it was great. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is AMAZING. I couldn't recommend it enough xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Ahh no don't let me put you off! It's had so much praise so I think I'm in the minority of people that didn't love it xx

Sophie said...

Little Fires Everywhere and Seven Husbands are both very high on my TBR pile. I watched Little Fires in a single weekend, I loved it so much so I have very high hopes for the book. This is the first time I've seen anyone give Daisy Jones and The Six less than a 5!! I've seen so many positive reviews so I found your feedback really interesting x


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